Nepal to focus on executing bilateral projects

Kathmandu, October 24

Nepali side will press the Indian side for early and effective execution of bilateral projects in Nepal, when Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat meets his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj during a Joint Commission meeting scheduled to be held in New Delhi this week.

The fourth Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting to be led by foreign ministers of both the countries is being held in the Indian capital from October 26 to 27.

The two sides are also expected to announce an oversight mechanism to monitor projects running under India’s economic cooperation in Nepal and do the needful for their timely completion.

Both sides have already picked their representatives for the joint instrument.

The foreign secretary will lead the Nepali side, while the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu will lead the Indian side. The mechanism was mooted during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s visit to India in September.

During the meeting, progress on connectivity, transport, tourism, border security, embankment and inundation projects will be reviewed, according to Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi.

A source said over four dozen bilateral issues will be reviewed during the meeting.

“Our focus is on reviewing all ongoing projects and discussing ways to complete them on time,” he added.

Bairagi is leaving for New Delhi tomorrow to take part in a meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on October 26, and Minister Mahat will leave for India on October 26 to attend the foreign-ministerial level meeting of the joint commission.

The joint commission was first formed in 1987. Its third and last meeting was held in Kathmandu in July 2014 after a hiatus of 23 years. The meeting will review progress on issues that featured during the last joint commission meeting two years ago and other high-level exchanges between the two sides.

A source told The Himalayan Times that progress made in the works of Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India relations would be discussed in the two-day meeting. The third joint commission meeting decided to set up EPG to review all existing Nepal-India treaties and agreements and contextualise them.

The date for President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s visit to India is also likely to be fixed during the joint commission meeting, a source added. The president’s visit to the southern neighbour was called off at the last moment in May.